A Republican member of the North Carolina elections board worked closely with local officials in their effort to eliminate a heavily Democratic voting site, a plan a judge ruled was intended to suppress voter turnout, according to hundreds of emails reviewed by The Associated Press. The state Board of Elections is supposed to act as a neutral arbiter when policy disputes arise involving county elections boards. The emails show that Paul J. Foley worked closely behind the scenes with GOP officials in Watauga County as they crafted a plan to eliminate the early voting site at Appalachian State University. Foley is already under scrutiny for failing to recuse himself for 17 months from the state election agency’s investigation into political donations from an Oklahoma sweepstakes mogul represented by his law firm. He recused himself only after staff learned the mogul had paid nearly $1.3 million to his firm. Details of that investigation are to be released Wednesday.
The emails between Foley and Republican officials in Watauga discussing the removal of the longstanding Appalachian State voting site were provided to AP by Pam Williamson, a Democrat who was among those who successfully sued to keep the location open for the 2014 election. She received the emails following a public records request, and the state elections board confirmed their authenticity.
“Foley was right in the middle, advising GOP movers and shakers in our county to move forward with the plan,” she said. “It’s our contention that things were decided before the board met.”